Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

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Did I ever mention that I was an introvert? It's probably partly genetic, but I think it's mostly to do with the way I grew up. I was the youngest but was raised as an only child. I never lived with any of my siblings. And while part of me was lonely, part of me enjoyed the solitude. Or maybe I just grew accustomed to spending a lot of time on my own. Regardless, it has shaped me into an adult who needs a certain amount of alone time.

Over Christmas, I spent a wonderful two weeks in Florida with my family. And though we had a lovely time, I was excited at the end of the trip for some time to myself. While I love spending time with Husband, Moozles and Dubz, my sense of well-being requires alone time. I need to have quiet so I can think and read and write. And even when watching television, I don't like people talking to me or walking near me.

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And when I say new bedroom, I mean NEW BEDROOM. We didn't just give it a lick of paint. We are nearing the end of a major home renovation project. There have been new windows, plastering, painting, new carpets and new furniture. I even switched bedrooms with my daughter. And as of yesterday, the bedroom was 95% finished (shutters are arriving in two weeks). So I thought I'd share the journey of our new master bedroom.

Like I said, the bedroom was originally my daughter's. The previous owners had painted one wall pink, and the door was painted black. Add crumbling plaster and green carpets that were about 30 years old, and the room was kinda disgusting. But no more (I wish I had more before photos, but the workmen started on the room earlier than expected).

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You know that I'm one of those people who puts time into their hair. I have naturally wavy hair, and I wash and straighten it every 2-3 days. I have a £100 hair straightener, but have always used fairly inexpensive hair dryers. So when the lovely folks from LanaiBLO offered me a hair dryer worth £99, I was intrigued to see what you get for that price.

First of all, I need to address the obvious. My hairdryer has my name on it. This is no coincidence. LanaiBLO offer personalisation on all their hair dryers (as well as three different colours: white, pink and black). How could I not get my name? You don't see Elfa on many things, so anytime there's an offer of personalisation, I take it. This costs an extra £15, but is totally worth it.

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Before I moved to the area, I knew that Kingston-upon-Thames was known for its shopping. And in the last few years, it has gotten even better. And it's not just shopping. There are restaurants, cafes, as well as pubs, bars and a delightful theatre. There is so much that you could easily, and happily, do to spend a day in Kingston.

A few weeks ago, I took Moozles and Dubz to enjoy some of what Kingston has to offer. We started off in the Bentall Centre. It is an indoor mall housed in a gorgeous building. And it houses some of my favourite homeware shops (Zara, H&M and West Elm). We are currently renovating our house, and I have been spending a lot of time exploring the internet for gorgeous items for my home. But sometimes you just need to get to a shop and see things in real life.

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It's been a bit tough feeling festive this year. Our home renovations still haven't finished, and we don't even have a Christmas tree. But on Friday, we took the time out for some family fun in Kingston. The kids and I went shopping at Bentalls and had afternoon tea at the Hilton Doubletree. Husband then met us at the Rose Theatre to watch Alice in Winterland.

Fans of Lewis Carroll will be familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice in Winterland is a combination of both books. Alice's world is falling apart and all she wants to do is stop time. Her journey to Wonderland helps to show her how important it is to move forward and to accept change. The show had some really touching moments, but there were plenty of exciting moments and fun songs.

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Can you believe it? Christmas is almost here. It's just over a week until the big day. I feel like we spend November, eagerly awaiting the acceptable moment where we can decorate and discuss festivities. Often we start too early as we're just so damn excited. And then, before you know it, it's mid-December and we have Christmas-fatigue.

I read that Christmas-fatigue is a real thing. It's not just something people say when they're tired of thinking about gifts and visiting their families. Apparently our hormones can go out of whack, leading us to feel sad and tired. We spend too much time partying, eating unhealthy food, buying and wrapping presents, and drinking too much booze. Simple.

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When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to go to Pizza Hut all the time. We loved their salad bar and personal pan pizzas. But I haven't been to Pizza Hut much since my early 20s. A few months ago, we happened to be near one and had dinner there while my daughter was at a party. We were surprised at how good it was and vowed to take her (Moozles loves a salad bar). So last weekend we went to the new restaurant in Kingston-upon-Thames to try out the new menu.

First of all, I noticed how family-friendly Pizza Hut looks. There is lots of banquette seating, the colours are bright without being garish, and the artwork shows pizza-related superheroes. The children's menu has a little and bigger option. My five-year old had the smaller meals and my nine-year old had the bigger one. And while we waited for our food, we all enjoyed the salad bar.

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In my 20s, I was obsessed with shoes and handbags. I spent my 30s thinking about things for my babies. Now, in my 40s, I'm all about my home (okay, okay, I still like shoes and handbags). So I was thrilled when I heard that West Elm was opening their second UK store in Kingston-upon-Thames. And I was even more thrilled to be invited to the grand opening on the 8th December.

Personally, I love mid-century modern. I like furniture to be comfortable and useful, but also interesting. West Elm is like my mecca. Even if you're not looking for big pieces, or if you have a small budget, you are able to find accessories here that add a unique feel. They have some amazing plates, mugs and Christmas decorations that are both vintage and modern and oh so quirky. And despite West Elm being a chain, it's not like you'' end up having the same armchair or mirror as half of your friends (I'm looking at you IKEA).

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If you are anything like me, most of the time you feel a bit stretched. There is just so much to think about and get done, especially at this time of the year. Right now, it feels like Christmas is just around the corner and I'm starting to feel the pressure a bit. There is a long list of potentially time-consuming things to get done, including present buying, which is a task that I know many of you dread.

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Updating the Living Room with a New Sofa

We have been busy at Californian Mum HQ (by HQ, I mean my house). We are currently in the middle of home renovations. Although we have been having some major work done, we are also getting new furniture and giving the house a general update. Last month, we gave the living room a little update in the form of a new sofa and moving some furniture around.

Our previous sofa was brown and boring. It was also not very comfortable, even though it was only three years old. And the top cushions were in a constant state of sag. Also, after some calculations, I realised that we had had four brown sofas over the past 14 years. Husband really likes brown sofas. But I decided that I needed some colour in my life.

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